Monday, 12 September 2016

When Obiano completes 8 years as Gov, Anambra would be advanced in development –Umeh


From Iheanacho Nwosu,  Abuja

Former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and senatorial candidate in the outstanding Anambra Central Senatorial District election, Chief Victor Umeh, has described former Anambra State governor, Chief Peter Obi, as an intruder in the Anambra Central senatorial rerun election.
Umeh said there was no way the former governor, who is seeking to contest the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), could join the race since he was not part of the nullified senatorial election held last year.
In this interview, the APGA leader also aired his views on 25 years of Anambra as a state.

 What is significant about the jubilee marked by Anambra State recently?


The picture of Anambra State is no longer the way it used to be. You must have clearly seen the three flyovers in the state capital. But, clearly and outstandingly, the state is devoid of criminals. Those who were into robbery, kidnapping, paid dearly for it. Due to its security, investors have started coming to Anambra State. Governor Willie Obiano always knew that the issue of insecurity in the state was a great challenge; so he addressed it in a summit he organised after his first month in office. When Obiano took over from Obi on March 17, 2014, he made agriculture a major policy of government. Recently, Anambra was commended as one of the top states in agricultural development. We also export vegetables.
Within 25 years of Anambra’s existence, APGA has been in power for 10 years and APGA is responsible for the success story of the state. This worked because the party, as an institution, is focused on alleviating the sufferings of the people and delivering quality governance to the people. This party has been able to turn Anambra State around with great sacrifices from the members of the party. Today, in Anambra State, APGA people have done their best for the state, in terms of sacrifice and patience, for the good of the state. Nobody goes to the governor to wrestle for the resources of the state. So, whatever  the state has is deployed to provide services and quality governance to the people.

What are your fears for the next few years?

The only way that Anambra State can continue making progress is if it sticks to APGA. That is the source of the success of the state in the last 10 years. This is so because the government has been running without any form of hindrance.
The former governor, Peter Obi, was fully in charge of the state, even when there were quarrels and political disagreements; he would have failed, like PDP, if we had not backed him to succeed. The party is peaceful and the government is also peaceful. To sustain this, the state must keep APGA in power so that the consolidation going on through Obiano’s administration would continue.
When Obiano finishes eight years of two terms and the people entrust the state to another governor produced by APGA, the transformation would continue to the extent that Anambra would be well-developed.

Are you saying that the pressure being put on APGA by the PDP is not being felt?

PDP is like a rainy season that is coming to an end. The exit of the rain is usually tumultuous. PDP held Anambra down during its  regime. APGA took over in 2006 and started fixing the state . That effort has  brought us to this stage. PDP held the entire South-East down because of its impunity and recklessness during elections. But since it lost the 2015 elections, nobody would care about it anymore.

 What do you mean?


They are on their way out. Like I said, they are like a tumultuous rain, the last rain would always be destructive before peace would reign. It is still a fallout of the PDP’s impunity. They were able to do all that they did because Goodluck Jonathan was President. With the exit of PDP, they are being weeded out  from governance in Nigeria. Look at what is happening in the party. Today, only a mad man would want to build his house through PDP. There is no state in Nigeria that is sane enough to build its leadership under PDP. An unorganised political party cannot be trusted with leadership.
In the past, they were seizing power; they were rigging elections using federal might, using the police and Army to ambush the people. Now that they do not have that force; my prayer is that APC should not toe the same line.

What is your take on the move by the PDP to participate in the Anambra Central election, in which you are one of the candidates?


From my senatorial district, I am the last man standing. PDP is struggling to join the race. The matter is in court. However, as a veteran in this process, I know that this would be the end of PDP in this state. The party has always tried to manipulate the system and foist impossible things on the people. My senatorial election has a re-run election, (like) Kogi East and Kogi Central senatorial districts, the Court of Appeal nullified the three senatorial elections because those declared winners were not properly nominated by their parties. These three senatorial districts have the same case. Kogi East and Kogi Central have been concluded.
Two senators were removed, as INEC had concluded the rerun without APC taking part in those two reruns. PDP took over the seats. In my own case, it is curious that the same judge, who stopped APC from participating in the rerun said that PDP would participate in the rerun of Anambra central senatorial district. So, since I knew it was a travesty, the case is in the Supreme Court now. They lost at the Court of Appeal on July 22, 2016, and they proceeded to Supreme Court. I know that once the court is back from vacation, the matter would be dealt with and the way would be cleared. PDP can never be part of it.
When the court nullified the election in December, I addressed the people, saying that this rerun election has no room for fresh candidates because the Supreme Court said so; fresh candidates do not join rerun elections or fresh elections ordered upon nullification of previous elections.  I have been involved in the politics of the state since 1998. I have watched the things going on and I do not see a way out for PDP.

The impression is that you are afraid of Peter Obi…

The truth is that he was not part of the election; he is clearly an intruder.
I am not afraid of him, though he has a lot of money to spend. If  he contests  an election and I contest, too, I will win. But there is no point going into a contest with somebody who is an intruder. When I addressed journalists in Lagos, Obi was nowhere at the scene. I stated it clearly that the same law has been effective in Kogi and other states in Nigeria, where elections had been nullified and people were disqualified. You must practice what you believe. If you believe in the rule of law, you should practice it. Just because you were denied justice does not mean you should turn against the person that won. By the time we are done, it will be obvious to everybody that there is no substitute to doing what the law says.

Do you have confidence in the current leadership of INEC, that it would do a good job?

This is a new leadership entirely. I have worked as national chairman of the party with Prof. Maurice Iwu as INEC chairman and Prof. Attahiru Jega. I have not worked with this new chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, but I can tell you that any leadership of the electoral commission that wants to succeed must not accept dictation from anybody, no matter how highly placed the person is. The INEC chairman must not take directives from outside the commission because of the sensitive nature of the work of the commission.
The credibility of the electoral commission depends on its preparedness to be neutral at all times, which will create level playing field for everybody. INEC must be in a position to protect the law, because, if INEC relaxes, it will never succeed. INEC is doing its best since this administration took place. It should remove corrupt officials. It was reported that N23 billion was used to bribe INEC officials during the last elections. Some money was traced to their accounts, but we have not been hearing about their prosecution. So, INEC must remove all the bad eggs in the commission.

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